After finishing the week 1-4 since the last Temperature was taken, the Raptors have now fallen to a dreadful 2-8 record for the very, very strange 2020-21 NBA season.
In the two wins that the Raptors have managed to corral against the Sacramento Kings and the New York Knicks, Toronto beat their hapless opponents by 21 and 17 points respectively. With the offense struggling, it would be easy to levy those wins into a semblance of hope, but with the calibre of those two franchises, Raptors fans would be wise to not get their hopes up too high — if that’s even something that’s possible at this point.
With that ray of hope, let’s see if there’s some sunshine tucked away in what was a dreadful week.
Chris Boucher, Mr. Reliable
Hey, look: sunshine! Chris Boucher has been absolutely balling on both ends of the floor for the Toronto Raptors.
on the bright side here are chris boucher's numbers over the last five:— William Lou (@william_lou) January 12, 2021
- 121 minutes
- 76 points (27-44 FG, 12-22 3P)
- 32 rebounds
- 15 blocks
We’ll get to the other two in that tweet later on, but here’s how those totals look for Boucher per game over the last five: 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3 blocks per game in only 24 minutes. Three blocks per game in 24 minutes?!
Chris Boucher should be starting for this Raptors team.— Esfandiar | Es (@JustEsBaraheni) January 9, 2021
23 points and 10 rebounds (4 offensive) tonight + 3 blocks.
He’s made the most of the bigger role he’s been provided this year. pic.twitter.com/7ifUtbXgEB
One would have to imagine that this is exactly what Masai Ujiri was hoping for when he offered Boucher his two-year extension this offseason. Unfortunately, this presents Nick Nurse with yet another problem to add to a surely long list: can he leave Boucher on the bench? Read on to find out why the answer to that question isn’t so easy.
Pascal Siakam, 99.9%
Let’s get one thing clear — Pascal Siakam has been absolutely incredible over the last four games. How incredible? Here’s more numbers: 24 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7 assists and only 2 turnovers per game on 53 percent shooting from the field! He also managed to pick up one of these.
Siakam has unquestionably responded to the scores of critics and pundits who, at times, merciless ripped apart his game. What’s more, is that Pascal has responded by, once again, raising the ceiling of his game even further thanks to his development as a passer.
After averaging 3.5 assists last year, Pascal’s up to 5.1 assists on the year and trending way, way up. Continuing to pass at this level will do wonders for the Raptors offense that, at times, can look very, very stale.
Pascal Siakam, 0.01%
And then there’s this.
Pascal Siakam was *THIS* close to hitting the game-winner against the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/X5oaQgusTV— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 11, 2021
Which was immediately follow up by this.
Pascal Siakam misses the game winner for the second straight game. pic.twitter.com/vUaxXHIm2A— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 12, 2021
Nobody is perfect and if even one of those game-winning attempts falls, the narrative around the Raptors and Siakam is vastly different. Nonetheless, it isn’t and Siakam missed two game-winning shots that now have the Raptors in a deep hole in the Eastern Conference. If the NBA season ends up lasting until the playoffs are slated to come around, those two in-and-out shots could come back to haunt Toronto.
Alex Len and Aron Baynes, Completely Nothing
What exactly is Nick Nurse to do with his centre spot? Neither one of Aron Baynes or Alex Len can score, effectively rebound or handle the ball well enough to not cough it up almost as soon as they touch it. Both are also having big problems catching up with the Raptors hyper-active defensive scheme. One can imagine that Boucher will be seeing more starts, but the potential domino effect that has is that the bench, which is already hanging on by a thread because of Boucher’s yeoman work, becomes infinitely worse.
In the end, the Raptors are 2-8, so how much worse can it really get?